Paper Mache Recipe – Leah Nikolaou

Paper Mache Recipe

Learning Paper Mache  

I'd wanted to give paper mache a go for ages after being inspired by some gorgeous little pots that I discovered were made from paper. I never considered paper as a material that could be watertight or strong enough to be made into large objects, which is silly because if we look back into history, paper mache has a rich history.

Papier mache pots

What is paper mache?

Wikipedia describes Papier-mâché as a composite material consisting of paper pieces or pulp, sometimes reinforced with textiles, bound with an adhesive, such as glue, starch, or wallpaper paste.' 

Ariel view of papier mache pots

The History Of Paper Mache

My initial preconception was that it's a craft form that originates in France. Well, from the term papier mache, it's the obvious guess. Correct, 'paper mache' is the French for chewed paper, but the term was coined in 18th century England when it was fashionable to use the French language to give contemporary names to things. From masks and festival props to small bowls and

By the 19th Century, papier mache had evolved from its origins in China and the Hans Dynasty (BC 202 - AD 220) to become a favourite material for Victorian artisans. Vast numbers of factories recorded made familiar objects in papier mache and more significant furniture like fire screens, chairs, beds, and even wardrobes. They layered the papier mache with lacquers to strengthen the layers.

Strips of embroidered paper for papier mache

How to make paper mache paste:

There are two principal ways of making paper mache. The first is by tearing strips and layering them together with glue. The second is boiling paper to a pulp and adding glue to bind it together.

I experimented with brown kraft paper, newspaper, and wallpaper offcuts. Opting for the strip method, I've been simply cutting them into strips and soaking them in my mixture for a few minutes before layering.

Paper mache recipes:

Paper mache jug which has a knitted handle

Flour & Water Recipe

Make this recipe with one part flour to one part water. Some people add salt to prevent molding, although molding will still happen if the paper isn't dried correctly.

Wallpaper Paste Recipe

Make this recipe with two parts wallpaper paste to one part water.

 Glue/ PVA Recipe

Make this recipe with two parts glue for one part water.

All materials differ, so the above is a rough guide worth tweaking.

Paper Mache Pots

I decided to make some pots by layering my paper around the shapes of a salt shaker and a jug that I had. Layering was easy, but I needed to factor in retrieving my object from the middle, which did make my vessels break a bit loose while I got them out. However, once out, my primary forms were still there, and with some shaping, it was easy to mold them back into the shapes. Below are my results:

Papier Mache Experiment 1:

I am using the glue/PVA paper mache recipe & the method of layering torn pieces of paper.

Hand embroidered papier mache

Never keeping things simple, I experimented with mixing hand embroidery and knitting with my papier mache. I knitted handles for my vessels using kid silk mohair, adding another homespun dimension that gave them a cosy feel. I embroidered the pot once I'd finished constructing the papier mache shape, which was a mistake. Getting the needle through layers of paper stuck together with glue was challenging and probably not the best idea. 

Papier Mache Experiment 2:

I was using the glue/PVA paper mache recipe again & the method of layering torn pieces of paper.

How many layers of papier mache

This time instead of embroidering the pots after making the papier mache, I decided to embroider strips of embroidery and layer the embroidered sections into the papier mache. Working in this order worked much better, and I love the effect it created!

If you love exploring new paper crafts and enjoy embroidery embellishment, why not check paper embroidery!

Illustration of papier mache guide end page





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